Illinois Lawmakers Blast Trump's Blagojevich Commutation

Feb 18, 2020

Illinois lawmakers across the political spectrum aren't happy about President Donald Trump's commutation of former Governor Rod Blagojevich's 14-year prison sentence on corruption charges. 

State Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) said "it's extremely disappointing that Donald Trump thinks someone who extorted a children's hospital is deserving of clemency."

Blagojevich was serving a sentence linked to his attempted sale of an appointment to Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat in exchange for campaign contributions. 

State Rep. Ryan Spain (R-Peoria) said the clemency decision is "outrageous," and said Illinois is still suffering from the "tremendous damage" done by Blagojevich during his time in office. 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the move sends the wrong message at a time where Illinois is dealing with "far too much corruption." He said he's working on ethics reforms this spring. 

The White House said there was broad support for the commutation from figures like U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and Reverend Jesse Jackson, and cited the "exemplary character" he's shown during his time in prison.

In a joint statement, Republican congressmen Darin LaHood, Rodney Davis, Adam Kinzinger, Mike Bost, and John Shimkus said they believe Blagojevich should have served his full sentence. 

"Blagojevich is the face of public corruption in Illinois, and not once has he shown any remorse for his clear and documented record of egregious crimes that undermined the trust placed in him by voters. As our state continues to grapple with political corruption, we shouldn’t let those who breached the public trust off the hook. History will not judge Rod Blagojevich well," the congressmen said. 

Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Moline) also registered her disapproval. 

“Governor Blagojevich betrayed the trust of the public and failed to meet the ethical standards of the office entirely. Illinoisans deserve better from their elected officials and I don’t believe the sentence he received was inappropriate. Government at all levels must work for the people, not the greedy and corrupt," she said.